Firefox (Novel, 1977)


Monthly Donor
While not AH as such, the novel Firefox by Craig Thomas (1977) indirectly qualifies as very-near future thriller that lies now deep in our past. I actually didn’t remember I had a copy of Craig Thomas’ novel (German translation from 1982, post-movie, with movie stills etc.)
Actually, a decent novel, the mid/late 70s were a good time for cold war thrillers, pre 80s and 90s curb stomps. Particularly the ‘techno’ thriller genre seemed to be more vivid pre-Clancy standardization. Firefox is not the first novel of its kind, but I wonder if it is the first ‘modern’ example of the cold war/techno thriller combo outside of SF (but I am probably wrong here). I wonder if it was inspiration for Clancy's The Hunt for Red October (1984) (See this thread)
The novel begins with a letter exchange between members of the British intelligence community. The exchange is dated exactly, from August 1975 to June 1979. The Soviets are in the process of developing and testing the Mig-31 (first flight in 1979). Not the upgraded Mig-25 of OTL, but a plane of truly astounding capabilities:
-Mach 5+
-Thought guided weapons system (even after launch)
-Stealth (“anti-radar”)
-And probably more
Speed is still beyond even modern-day capabilities for mass produced aircraft (I guess), and the mind-controlled devices are still in their infancy (at best). Interestingly, Thomas had stealth on the radar in 76-77, was he the first?
From an AH point, something that is not really fleshed out (but mentioned in the exchange in the beginning) is that particularly the development of a fully operational mind-controlled vehicle would also have massive impacts on many other fields, not just military. Soviet advance on theses filed would imply a Soviet Union doing much better in general (?)
I am also wondering if just stealing such an advanced aircraft would not go down that well with the Soviets – a much smaller time window of absolute/massive strategic superiority for the early 80s SU (here already with Andropov in charge) could mean that the soviets could be tempted to use it or loose it.
But the main problem is the unrealistic Mig-31 (the mind control thingy above all) – what realistic scenario would make the west so desperate to attempt stealing a plane (which only succeeds in the novel owing to an overconfident KGB officer allowing the British and Americans to penetrate the project in the first place). The US missing the adaption of stealth technology? Could the SU finish a realistic stealth bomber within the error bars of OTL 70s, threatening the strategic balance too much?